According to a June 17 article in Al Monitor by Laura Rozen:
“Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at meetings in Oslo, Norway, this week, signaled that he has more authority on the Syria file than he has had until now, and that Iran may be prepared to show more flexibility to advance a political solution, sources who met with him there told Al-Monitor.”
This is indeed a shift, as the IRGC has been in charge of the Syria file in Iran and not the foreign ministry. The latter has had far more influence and leverage over this issue domestically and internationally, than the former.
So what happened? Why now?
There are various theories. In my opinion, an important reason behind this recent Iranian shift could be because the regime in Tehran has realized that with 5 months to go before Obama leaves office, the countdown to a U.S strike against the Assad regime has started.
Either of the two candidates standing for the upcoming U.S presidential elections are far more likely to strike at Assad than Obama is. So best to try and reach a deal with Obama before he leaves office.
Personally speaking, I have been a big supporter of President Obama’s Middle Eastern policies, be it the peace process between Israel and Palestine, or the Iran nuclear deal. But when it comes to Syria, I think he has made a mistake. Assad will not take the peace process seriously and will not stop using chemical weapons (allegedly) until he faces a credible U.S threat from America’s air force.
While Assad calls everyone else who is confronting him a “terrorist” and “extremist”, let’s not forget that according to former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford:
Syrian human-rights organizations have pointed out that that government has killed seven times more civilians than isis has.
The numbers speak for themselves. Assad has been a far bigger and more lethal killer of civilians in Syria than ISIS. And the silence of some of the supporters of the Russia and Iran regime in Washington and elsewhere is morally repugnant. The same people who usually scream “human rights abuse” or “war crime” at Israel or the U.S are so silent when it comes to Assad’s heinous crimes.